Old China Hands lunch 5 April

Our monthly lunch at Morel’s Restaurant

Old China Hands lunch 5 April was on Tomb-Sweeping Day (Qingming). And yes, few had an excuse not to attend but some were disoriented and … forgot about the lunch. We a total of 36, with some new faces. First time we had the new price of RMB 110, a sweet deal for our attendees (the normal set lunch price is now RMB 118).

Our next lunch

Next one is Friday 3 May. It is our sixth anniversary! Time flies, some members left, new are joining. If anybody is interested (and qualifies), contact me. Any nationality is welcome but it is for foreign-passport holders with ten years connection with the Middle Kingdom.

Old China Hands lunch 1 March

Our monthly lunch at Morel’s Restaurant

Old China Hands lunch 1 March was as always, so nothing special to mention, the total of 32 participants were happy. Chatting, eating, chatting.

Our next lunch

Next one is Friday 5 April. And yes, I know, it’s Tomb Sweeping Day and the the start of a three-day holiday. But not sure many of our friends will be sweeping that day. Let them sweep a nice Belgian dish instead!
As all prices in Beijing have been going up, Morel’s Restaurant finally has had to increase their too-cheap price of RMB 98 for the copious set menu to RMB 118. The new price, still very attractive, is set at RMB 110, only for us!

Old China Hands lunch 1 February

Our monthly lunch at Morel’s Restaurant

Old China Hands lunch 1 February was again a pleasant surprise. We were worried how to fill the tables but we ended up with a full house. With 39 we were close to beat our record of May 2018 (43). I give up predicting numbers! It seems the “weirder” the date, the more attendants.

We also had the people of UWEE (Union of Western & Eastern Education) to come and make a small video of the (official) specialists we have right now in the SAFEA experts group.

The video was later posted on their website.

A member few of you know…

Indeed our Belgian friend Wilfried does not talk much about all what he does, except singing with me in our KTVs. Here an old article of China Daily I found back. Little has changed for him since then…
18 September 2012 – Body repatriation becomes growing business in country
By Li Yao (China Daily)

Our next lunch

Next one is Friday 1 March. As all prices in Beijing have been going up, Morel’s Restaurant finally has to increase their too-cheap price of RMB 98 for the copious set menu. Later I will announce the new price that still will be very attractive.
Beware all non-RSVP: a new clean-up of my e-mail list is coming…

Old China Hands lunch 4 January

Our monthly lunch at Morel’s Restaurant

Our Old China Hands lunch 4 January in Morel’s Restaurant again was on a “funny date” (and so will the next one), but we still had a total of 31! A good way to start the new year 2019!
Otherwise nothing special to mention except everybody seemed happy as usual.

Our next lunch

Next one is Friday 1 February, the last working day before Chinese New Year, the Year of the Pig.
Many might be away already for holidays but we count on the hard core to fill some tables.

Westvleteren in Beijing

Trappist Beer

In Beijing there is plenty of Trappist beer but finding Westvleteren in Beijing was a surprise.
Westvleteren is one of the recognized Trappist beers. See here the introduction by Listverse.

In the silent halls of a 17th-century Trappist monastery, something dark is brewing. The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly referred to as the Trappists, is a monastic order that focuses on the work of one’s own hands as the true path to salvation. Although they don’t take an official vow of silence, Trappist monks avoid speaking unless absolutely necessary, and any speech that mocks or puts down someone else is a sin. All in all, they’re not bad fellows.
But regardless of any religious affiliation, Trappist monks brew some of the meanest beers in the world. There are only 10 authentic Trappist breweries in the world, and six of those are in Belgium. Westvleteren XII, a Trappist beer brewed not far from the city of Ypres, is often called the best beer in the world. Everything the Trappists make from their beer goes back into their abbeys in accordance with their vow of poverty.

According to another source there are now officially 11:
6 in Belgium, 2 in The Netherlands, 1 in Austria, 1 in USA and 1 in France:

  1. Achel, of Hamont Achel
  2. Chimay
  3. Engelszell – Austria
  4. La Trappe – The Netherlands
  5. Orval
  6. Rochefort
  7. Spencer – USA
  8. Westmalle
  9. Zundert – The Netherlands
  10. Westvleteren
  11. Mont de Cats – France (recognized in 2011)

More about Trappist and Westvleteren

Read this: “Ale and hearty: Aging Trappist monks brew on”  by Philip Blenkinsop
A gold standard for beer connoisseurs, the Trappist ale in Westmalle Abbey streams through state-of-the-art equipment with not a monk in sight.
The full article:

From Wikipedia:
Westvleteren (Brouwerij Westvleteren) is a brewery founded in 1838 at the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus in Vleteren, Belgium. The brewery’s three beers have acquired an international reputation for taste and quality, Westvleteren 12 being considered by some to be the best beer in the world. The beers are not brewed to normal commercial demands but are sold in small quantities weekly from the doors of the monastery itself to individual buyers on an advance-order basis. Read the full story:

20 February 2013 – Vleteren Journal
“Cult Beer Alters Town, but Not the Monks Who Make It”, by John Tagliabue NYT:
VLETEREN, Belgium — On the face of it, this quaint Belgian town has few attractions — a charming brick parish church; a tall wooden windmill at the town’s main intersection. But it has the world’s best beer. In the past few years, several Web sites that ask beer drinkers to rate their favorite brews have accorded that honor to a strong, dark local brew known as Westvleteren 12. In fact, the enthusiastic American Web site RateBeer.com gave the beer the honor two years in a row, dethroning a Swedish dark beer, Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter.
Read all: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/world/europe/cult-beer-westvleteren-12-gives-belgian-town-a-lift.html

And about Chimay:
15 January 2003 – Chimay Journal; “Monks’ Brew Showers Blessings on Belgian Town” by John Tagliabue NYT.
With his billowing white beard and black and white hooded habit, Dom Armand Veilleux, a Canadian-born monk in his mid-60’s, more resembles a figure from Umberto Eco’s novel of monastic mystery, ”The Name of the Rose,” than your average brewery executive.
Yet just across a snow-dusted garden from the room where he receives visitors, a microbrewery throbs, its six huge stainless steel vats fermenting more than 13,000 gallons of beer a day.
Only five years ago, the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Scourmont, where Dom Armand has been abbot for almost five years, turned out 15 percent less. But these days, Belgian Trappist beers — heavy brews, often dark and with as much as 9 percent alcohol — are surging in popularity, spreading blessings on the hilly farmland around Chimay, pop. 10,000, traditionally one of the poorer Belgian lands that snuggle against the French border.
Read the full story: https://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/15/world/chimay-journal-monks-brew-showers-blessings-on-belgian-town.html

Westvleteren in Beijing

I was most surprised to find the beer online: RMB129. Then one evening I was in “Bottleshop”, on Xindong Street, close to Jiamei Dental, a small shop and bar with an impressive choice of top beers. There it was sold for RMB200.
I decided to share my precious Trappist with Renaat Morel who knows all the little secrets of the brewing industry in Belgium.

According to Renaat Westvleteren is pretty close to St. Bernardus Abt 12. I won’t dare to judge.
I had never tasted the beer before as it it basically not available in Belgium, except if you queue up at the Abbey..